|This did not happen at the DESE Lindbergh meeting|
An overflow crowd (150 people estimate) packed a too small meeting room for DESE's presentation on Common Core. Here is the press release announcing the statewide meetings for last night. Apparently citizens were under the impression they would receive answers to their questions about Common Core but this was not DESE's intention. At the beginning DESE representative Maureen Clancy-May announced DESE would not answer any questions. Clancy-May stated that she may not even know the answer to many of the questions. DESE was there to present, break up into discussion groups, gather the questions, reveal the questions to the larger group, then take them back to Jefferson City so the citizens can be informed at some other date.
This is a classic Delphi Technique used to diffuse and control the message as facilitators would ask the question, take the information and then present it to the larger group. The people who actually ask the questions never get a chance to ask the person in charge and receive an answer to their questions.
This presentation may have been cursed from the beginning. It began with a power point presentation read directly off the screen with videos that have appeared previously on DESE's website. The videos did not work (which is ironic with the increased emphasis on technology and computer requirements for districts) and the citizens became increasingly agitated.
Finally, one person stated that people came to ask questions and receive answers. The group already knew what DESE's position and didn't need to be told again. Clancy-May insisted we break up into groups (which would have been impossible as there were no tables or enough room to divide up) and an elderly woman asked,
Do you not know how to deviate from your agenda?
The presentation was eventually stopped and the floor was opened up for questions. No questions were answered by May but they were written down to be taken back to DESE. What was very interesting, is that the citizens provided answers to citizen questions. It was clear the governmental agency was unable/unwilling to answer the basic questions of common core.
DESE never did answer questions on cost or data. These are the two issues Senator Lamping wants DESE to talk about in SB210 in the eight townhall meetings around the state with Commissioner Nicastro in attendance. It is imperative to contact Senator Lamping to make sure this bill is passed so DESE finally has to answer to the Legislature and the people on these two critical questions. If the bureaucrats cannot answer the questions, it is necessary to have the Commissioner answer these question. It is her signatures on Common Core signed MOUs and she should be the person to answer citizen questions. If not her, then Governor Nixon should appear since he also signed these MOUs.
We will be providing stories from the other DESE meetings as we receive them. Most of what we heard from the attendees is that they did break up into groups and followed DESE's instructions. It was DESE's agenda and it had the authority to run the meetings as it deemed appropriate. However, what is important to know about this Lindbergh meeting is that DESE's agenda did not fit the attendees' needs. Citizens came to get answers to questions about an initiative that has been put into motion for more than 3 years that has been done under the radar. They didn't come to hear a presentation to hear about how great CCSS are, they wanted answers on why they haven't been told before now, why the Governor signed onto them before they were even written, the data collection required via CCSS, how much they were going to cost, why the Legislature didn't know about CCSS, why we are in a consortia and cannot direct/develop our own educational standards/assessments.
One woman told May we are adults and we will not divide into Delphi groups.
Anne's and my impression was the Lindbergh group stood up to DESE and basically said we are mad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore. The people decided everyone needed a voice and a chance to ask their question in a larger venue vs small groups where their message could be altered or even ignored by a facilitator. This is a significant moment. It represents the taxpayers paying for these programs asserting their rights to ask questions and to receive answers on these programs. This act is the beginning of regaining control of their schools and the programs directing educational policy.
James Shuls from Show-Me Institute was available for citizen questions in the lobby afterward and Anne and I answered questions as representatives from Missouri Coalition Against Common Core. This meeting may be a game changer in our Common Core battle in Missouri and citizens in other school districts should take note. DESE cannot pacify people with meetings where no real information is disseminated (only talking points) and taxpayers demand answers from bureaucrats spending our money and using our children for these programs.
The DESE folks were genuinely surprised by the reaction (this was told to an attendee) of the crowd. When DESE doesn't even allow comments on their videos, a genuine forum to ask questions and institutes an agenda that has been hidden from public scrutiny for several years, it only has itself to blame for the distrust, frustration and genuine anger present at last night's meeting.
The media has been contacted been contacted several times and only a few print media were in attendance. The story is as massive and important as the Department of Revenue debacle and the governor's involvement in lack of transparency and setting policy outside of legislative approval. Why isn't the media covering this important issue? Call them today and ask them that question.
We can't wait for DESE's official answers to the written questions. Look for video and pictures to be posted soon. We will also be posting reports from the other locations. If you were at Lindbergh or other locations and have some observations, please post them in the comment section.
To understand the tone of the meeting last night at Lindbergh, watch this clip from the movie "Network" and "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore":
Sign the petition here against the implementation of Common Core.